A Kruger National Park ranger was attacked and mauled by a lion on Friday, the park said.
Spokesperson Raymond Travers said the incident happened at about 8am when the ranger, Rudi Lorist (32), was on a bush walk with eight tourists and assistant trails ranger Phillip Gumede.
The attack happened near the Metsi-Metsi Wilderness Trails Camp, situated near Tshokwane picnic site, north of Skukuza rest camp.
The group was returning to their vehicle when it encountered a lioness with cubs.
Lorist gave the lioness a wide berth but she continued advancing. He fired two warning shots before the lioness attacked him. She bit both Lorist’s forearms and scratched his body and face before letting go and running away.
A helicopter from Skukuza, with the park’s Dr Pieter Odendaal on board, was dispatched to the scene to provide medical attention. One of the tourists happened to be a doctor and administered first aid to Lorist until Odendaal arrived on the scene.
Lorist was flown to the Nelspruit Medi-Clinic where he has been admitted.
All eight tourists were safe and would continue with their activities.
Local section and field rangers who were fighting a bush fire caused by lightning at the time of the attack had been tasked to try to find the lioness, but so far they had not succeeded, Travers said.
Lorist is an experienced trails ranger with more than seven years’ experience walking trails in the Kruger.
Kruger National Park Wilderness Trails have been operating for 30 years without any animal-related fatalities and very few serious injuries. — Sapa